Dispelling Ghosts


Does Aki see ghosts? We are on the sandy bight that arcs past the old Auk village site to Point Louisa. The little dog hops and squirms, her body an uncoiling spring. She could be playing with the ghosts of dogs that once watched their masters pull toward shore in canoes formed from the trunk of a giant cedar. More likely, she is reacting to the new crop of mosquitoes that buzz around her eyes.


I strain to spot orcas in Lynn Canal, or closer in, the wakes of diminutive Dahl porpoises as they skim just below the surface of the bay. Memory ghosts of orcas and their smaller cousins float over the water. I try to give them some substance with my imagination, but fail. I also fail to see the reclining bodies of Stellar sea lions on a nearby island, growling like gluttons. This allows me to envision them as waist-coated gentlemen, spayed out in comfortable chairs after an enormous meal.


Among the flowering lupines at Point Louisa, Aki and I stumble on a blooming Rugosa rose. Someone must have planted it here, perhaps to commemorate the death of shipwreck victims. In 1918 the 343 passengers on the Princess Sofia drowned after the ship stuck nearby Vanderbilt Reef. Only a dog survived. As if to dispel the ghosts, a bumblebee flies down the throat of one of the rose blossoms. While it gets to work, Aki and head back to the car, passing a focused sapsucker climbing a spruce tree. The woodpecker pounds a bug out of the tree and flies off. He has no time for ghosts.


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